RDOWS’ Letter to Fort Carson, Colorado Military Base Regarding Their Consideration of a Ban on Eight Breeds of Dog!

October 2, 2008

Editor’s note: While we won’t post Fort Carson’s unnecessarily snarky, PR-machine generated response to our initial letter to them, we will post our response to their response. Suffice it to say there was no need for the tone they took with us, and there was certainly no excuse for treating tax paying members of the public this way. We civilians pay their salary do we not? As such I think it perfectly within bounds to demand an explanation when our own military treats our soldiers so shabbily.

RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERS OF THE WESTERN STATES
P.O. Box 1406 Newport, WA 99156
Web Site http://www.povn.com/rdows E-mail US rdows@povn.com
Blog https://rdows.wordpress.com E-mail List
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rdows

Cherie Graves, Chairwoman, WA, (509) 447-2821
JSD, Assistant to the Chair,
Director at Large, GA Chevalier@chevalier-bullterriers.com
Elizabeth Pensgard, Executive Secretary, Illinois Director,
bpensgard@yahoo.com
Hermine Stover, Media Liaison, Director at Large, CA,
hermine@endangeredspecies.com
Mary Schaeffer, Finance Director, finedogs@hotmail.com
Arizona Director, John Bowen, johnalldogs@sprintmail.com
California Director, Jan Dykema, bestuvall@sbcglobal.net
Indiana Director, Charles Coffman, candkcoffman@comcast.net
Iowa Director, Leisa Boysen, rdows_iowa@yahoo.com
Mississippi Director, Dan Crutchfield, farmer1@telepak.net
Nevada Director, Ken Sondej, 4winds@viawest.net
Tennessee Director, Gina Cotton, ginacotton@msn.com
Texas Director, Alvin Crow, crobx@austin.rr.com

To:

Mr. Dean Quaranta
Chief, Housing Division

Mr. Quaranta-

My interest, and that of my colleagues, is in the upholding of the Constitution. Ironically, soldiers who have just deployed and their fellow soldiers are fighting a war on several fronts in order to defend those constitutional rights; rights which in this instance may not be afforded to them.

Also ironic is that Sgt. Stubby, whose breed was then referred to as a “Pit Bull Terrier” or an “American Bull Terrier,” was the most decorated war dog of World War I and the only dog ever to be promoted to sergeant through combat. (I have attached a picture of him. He’s the one with only three legs.) Yet, this is one of the breeds Fort Carson is considering banning.

What you refer to as the “pit bull” is a breed with a long history of valor as Sgt. Stubby should show. But “pit bulls” also make excellent search and rescue (S&R) dogs. Perhaps you will remember the date Feb. 1, 2003, the day when the shuttle Columbia went down. On Feb. 3rd, when NASA and FEMA undertook the enormous task of recovering the astronauts’ remains, among those S&R dogs chosen was a dog named Dakota, a “pit bull.” (See photo attached.) According to Dakota’s handler,

“We were there for 10 days and the pressure to perform flawlessly was
incredible. We had a duty to bring our astronauts home; to provide
closure for their families…and to our nation./Dakota, my “pit bull”,
was hand picked by both FEMA and NASA for this mission because of her
proven search skills, professionalism in chaotic situations, her never
quit attitude and also her humor and charm.”

And yet this is a breed Fort Carson is considering banning. Certainly there are other similar heroic accounts from the other seven breeds Fort Carson seeks to ban/restrict, but you get the idea.

If one were to view this situation from all angles, one might conclude that authorities at Fort Carson — knowing how heinous it would be to not only ban/restrict breeds of dog, but eight of them — waited until a good portion of their residents deployed before considering such a drastic policy as banning eight breeds. But, we’d rather ask questions than assume: What was the impetus for the idea to ban eight breeds? Was there an attack or attacks by dogs of one or more of the eight breeds in question?

And your initial paragraph seems to indicate that while you will consider those soldiers deployed and their families before making such a drastic decision as to ban eight breeds on base, the reason for making that decision — your claims of a need for safety and the supposed threat that these specific eight breeds pose — is specious. If, as you say, the base is considering a ban out of an interest in safety, and yet you “grandfather” in current owners, by your own estimation then, you are still allowing these eight breeds you consider dangerous. Is this rational?

Of course, we are well aware there is no such thing as a “dangerous” or “vicious” breed. Nor is there any credible scientific evidence to back up your claim that these breeds endanger those on your base. We would, however, be interested in knowing what “numerous experts in various disciplines studying the issue” you have consulted. And likewise Sir, we do not take safety lightly. Indeed, we have dedicated our lives to the pursuit of safe dog ownership, but there is no proof that there is any one vicious breed, only careless, irresponsible owners who fail to train, socialize, and otherwise properly care for their dogs. These kinds of owners are not limited to one or even a dozen breeds, but thankfully they are limited in number.

Incidentally, breed bans have long been proven ineffective. For instance, Brighton, Colorado decided against a breed-specific ordinance just last month because,

“several municipalities in the area instituted pit-bull bans with no
reduction in vicious animal complaints and with a significant increase
in the number of hours worked by animal control staff.”

In the end, Brighton decided simply to enforce the laws they already had on their books noting that “although the number of pit bulls has increased following the institution of bans in neighboring communities, vicious dog incidents involving the breed have not.”

In short, the crux of this “dilemma” is that there is no dilemma at all. We know this because breeds fingered for supposed heightened viciousness are mere scapegoats for a lazy government — state or municipal — who simply will not, for whatever reason, police free-roaming dogs and their irresponsible owners. We’re sorry to say this characterization also seems to fit some military bases. We reiterate that this is not how we or those we represent want to see our soldiers treated. Whether you ban or restrict specific breeds, it’s still unconstitutional and it stands to negate the very rights — property and due process — that our soldiers are ostensibly fighting to preserve. To state that those on base are in danger from these eight breeds is a dubious statement to say the least, especially since you have offered no proof to back up your claim from the “numerous experts in various disciplines studying the issue.” Make no mistake, however, there are pseudo-scientists who make a perfectly good living lying to the public about the supposed inherent danger of select breeds. But you should know that these individuals often have ties to radical animal rights groups whose stated agenda is to end domestic pet ownership entirely. It would be a terrible pity to think that officials at Fort Carson had so carelessly given in to an animal rightist agenda, particularly as breed bans are an affront to the rights our Constitution is supposed to afford every American.

Thank you in turn for your interest. If you or others at Fort Carson have further interest in learning the agenda of animal rightists and how officials at Fort Carson may have fallen prey to their agenda, please reply to me and we would be more than happy to educate you. Our Board of Directors and affiliates are a wealth of knowledge and indeed could also be characterized as containing “numerous experts in various disciplines studying the issue.”

Again, thank you very much for your time.

Respectfully,


Elizabeth Pensgard
Executive Secretary and Illinois Director, Responsible Dog Owners of
the Western States
Director, Responsible Dog Owners Group of Illinois

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